Hillel and Chabad of Binghamton University came together to read the names of the millions of people lost in the Holocaust in observance of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
A ceremony took place Sunday night in the Anderson Center and was co-chaired by Andrew Davidov, the grandson of three Holocaust survivors. Davidov spoke about his grandfather and his duty as a third-generation survivor to remember him.
“If I don’t tell the story of my grandfather, then nobody will,” said Davidov, a sophomore majoring in English. “Like my mom said, it is our job to continue to tell the story so that no one ever forgets what happened. If my grandfather hadn’t escaped, I wouldn’t be here.”
In the past few years, Binghamton has brought survivors to tell their stories. This year, the emphasis was placed on the third generation to advocate on behalf of their grandparents.
Shalom Kantor, the rabbi of Hillel at Binghamton, spoke about the challenges that third-generation survivors face.
“The challenge that is put for third-generation survivors is the same as when during the Passover Seder, we are asked to consider what it was like to be a Jew in Egypt,” Kantor said. “This year, we begin a new chapter in our Holocaust remembrance.”
Benjamin Roth, a sophomore double-majoring in English and politics, philosophy and law, was another third-generation survivor who spoke at the ceremony on behalf of a relative.
“My grandfather saw the worst of humanity but still managed to smile,” Roth said. “He taught me to strive to be better and to keep my chin up. I saw in him courage beyond anything I could fathom. From him, I learned to be persistent. He always pushed us to become better people. He was preparing me to be a good person. It is my job to carry on family name, legacy and to tell my grandfather’s story. I chose to honor his name because he no longer can.”
Aaron Slonim, the rabbi for Chabad of Binghamton, led a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate victims of the Holocaust as he recounted his first-hand experience talking with survivors.
“Lit candles are the symbols of that who cannot die,” Slonim said.
Music was featured in the program in addition to the candle-lighting ceremony. Gina Glasman, a faculty member of the Judaic Studies program at Binghamton, played a simple love song written by a man who was killed in the Holocaust and whose entire Jewish community was destroyed. Kaskeset, the Jewish a cappella group on campus, performed the song “Eli Eli,” which was written by a Holocaust victim.
The event also featured screenings of “Schindler’s List,” “Defiance” and “Six Million and One.”
As the ceremony came to a close, all participants at the event walked from Chamber Hall to the name-reading vigil, which took place in a tent outside the Union.
The ceremony featured a quote by author Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust.
“Because I remember, I despair,” Wiesel said. “Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.”